BBC confuses armistice lines with borders yet again

Kibbutz Ein Gev, circa 1937

In the BBC’s profile of the Golan Heights which appears in the Middle East section of the BBC News website we find that once more 1949 Armistice Lines are mistakenly presented as borders. Addressing the subject of past talks between Israel and Syria, the profile states:

“But the main sticking point during the 1999 talks is also likely to bedevil any future discussions. Syria wants a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 border. This would give Damascus control of the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee – Israel’s main source of fresh water.

Israel wishes to retain control of Galilee [sic] and says the border is located a few hundred metres to the east of the shore.”

That “pre-1967 border” is actually the 1949 Armistice Line which was specifically defined as not being a border. Article V of the agreement states:

“1. It is emphasized that the following arrangements for the Armistice Demarcation Line between the Israeli and Syrian armed forces and for the Demilitarized Zone are not to be interpreted as having any relation whatsoever to ultimate territorial arrangements affecting the two Parties to this Agreement.

2. In pursuance of the spirit of the Security Council resolution of 16 November 1948, the Armistice Demarcation Line and the demilitarized Zone have been defined with a view toward separating the armed forces of the two Parties in such manner as to minimize the possibility of friction and incident, while providing for the gradual restoration of normal civilian life in the area of the Demilitarized Zone, without prejudice to the ultimate settlement.”

Prior to 1949, the most recent recognized border in the area was the one agreed between the mandatory powers Britain and France in 1923 after several alterations had been made in 1922 to the original territory assigned to the Jewish national home. 

1920 map

1922 map

1922 2 map

The 1923 Franco-British Boundary Agreement came about after the British High Commissioner at the time, Herbert Samuel, demanded and got full control of the Sea of Galilee and the Upper Jordan River. The border was set 100 meters to the east of the Jordan River, with a ten meter-wide strip at the north-eastern side of the lake and a broader strip at its south-eastern side included in the territory of the Mandate for Palestine. 

Syrian - Israel frontier

In 1948, the two year-old Syrian state took part in the attack against the nascent State of Israel, with that conflict ending in the 1949 Armistice Agreement which established an Armistice line and a series of demilitarized zones which did not constitute an international border. 

The BBC’s claim that a return to a “pre-1967 border” would “give Damascus control of the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee” is therefore inaccurate as the only border in existence prior to 1967 was the one agreed upon in 1923 by France and Britain which left access to the lake within the borders of Mandate Palestine. 

35 comments on “BBC confuses armistice lines with borders yet again

  1. Pingback: BBC confuses armistice lines with borders yet again | Blogs about Israel aggregation

    • Sharon, international law and history are not taught at Oprah or by Torah Café, they are taught in universities.

    • Dear Daphne, Bowen and Donnison are real journalists, who report on FACTS from the ground, based on REALITY, INTERNATIONAL LAW and RELIABLE SOURCES.

      They certainly do not need any support from PR professionnals like Ms Sela or Mr Levick who, it seems, don’t even hold a press card.

  2. Anyone that thinks Israel has no internationally recognised borders should

    a) buy an Atlas

    b} Ask the FO

    c) Ask the FO equivalents of every country in the world

    d) Ask the UN which obviously couldn’t have recognised a borderless state

    e) read Dayans autobiography especially page 117

    Unfortunately we can no longer ask Yitzak ” we carved out our own borders ” Shamir.

    • Further the headers to the maps are false. The league of Nations mandated the British to implement the intentions as expressed by the Balfour Declaration.The Zionists, in their discussions with the British, pressed for the following wording…..

      ” ……the establishment OF Palestine as the JNH.”

      This was SPECIFICALLY rejected by the British in favour of…..

      “……the establishment IN Palestine of a JNF.

      In other words they didn’t say WHERE in Palestine, and in fact never seemed to make up their minds.

    • armbach
      1. My Atlas marks ceasfure lines – not borders.
      2. The FO does not have the authority to decide another country’s borders.
      3. Ditto.
      4. Which “borders” did the UN “recognize” – the ceasefire lines of 1948? The Un recognized Israel BEFORE any such ceasefire lines existed!
      5. Did Dayan decide what the borders were himself?

      • Dear Adam, YOU don’t have the authority to decide the borders of the states of Israel and Palestine.

        The so-called 1967 borders, aka the Green Line or the 1948 armistice line, are Israel’s borders with the state of Palestine. This is why Israeli settlements built beyong this line are in violation of article 49 alinea 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, thus illegal.

          • I get lessons in international law from ICRC or the International Court of Justice, not from Oprah or from Torah Cafe.

          • Shosh, is this the same ICRC – International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, that club to which Israel was the only country in the entire world not to be admitted as full member and when finally offered a place at the table was told it would have to use a diamond as its symbol and not the Magen David, whilst all Islamic members can use their crescent and star? That same organisation that turns a blind eye to UN ambulances in Gaza assisting the terrorists escape justice? Mmmmm!,

            On the other hand you could learn something from Professor Kontorovich who teaches at Northwestern University, School of Law, where he specializes in constitutional and international law. He is one of the world’s pre-eminent experts on international jurisdiction and criminal law, and his work is cited in leading federal cases. He is working on a book on international law for Harvard University Press.

            He has been published in leading academic journals and his expertise is often sought out and quoted by major news organizations such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR News, Associated Press, LA Times, and numerous television and radio programs. Prof. Kontorovich’s writings on Israel have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Jerusalem Post, and numerous other publications.

            He is an internationally sought-after lecturer, and speaks frequently about the legal and historical aspects of the Israeli-Arab conflict at synagogues, Chabad houses, and student groups at dozens of universities across the country, such as Columbia, NYU, Berkley, Chicago, Georgetown, Michigan, and dozens of others, as well as the Israeli Military Advocate General’s International Law Department, CAMERA, the AJC, Decalogue Society.

            He has been honored with a fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, in 2011-12, and with the Federalist Society’s prestigious Bator Award, given annually to a young scholar (under 40) for outstanding scholarship and teaching.

            He attended the University of Chicago for college and law school, and ultimately taught there. After law school, he clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. In a previous career, he was a newspaperman at Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and for many years at the Forward, where he reported from New York, Washington, Israel and Lebanon.

            BTW who or what is Oprah?

        • Neither do you shosh.nat, but unlike you I’m claiming what they are – I simply acknowledge that these are not borders, but rather arbitrary ceasefire lines.

  3. Duvidl intends to go fly fishing for St. Peter’s fish on the Sea of Galilee this year, partly from the banks and beach at Kibbutz Ein Gev on the eastern shore opposite Tiberias. He will also, doubtless, revisit the lovely fish restaurant there, where he will have any fish he catches cooked to perfection. He will also remember the peace and tranquility of the area, just as it was thirty years ago when he worked as a volunteer waiter in the fish restaurant. He will also dine at the more recent kosher meat restaurant.

    He will see again the ruins of the former Syrian gun emplacements on the Golan heights, which kibbutzniks say used to rain down heavy artillery fire on them at any times in the past where Syria had control of the Golan. He will, again, thank the Lord for the Golani brigade and the IAF, which knocked them out and continues to protect Israelis, tourists, fishermen and the pilgrims who regularly baptise themselves there in peace and freedom from Syrian butchers like Assad.

    • Enjoy Duvidl. I’ve experienced the peace and tranquility there. No place like it anywhere and its all Israel. Happy New Year all. May it bring peace and prosperity to all.

    • @Duvid: I hate to upset you, but while Ein Gev, & the Galilee/Golan area in general, are lovely, I went to the restaurant at Ein Gev in November, and found the food very disappointing. In fairness, I do remember my companion of that evening told me he had also been there one night earlier in the year, when the restaurant had a special Guest Chef in, and the food had been good then, so maybe you just need to pick your night carefully!
      While in Tiberias centre, my eye was caught by a newish fish restaurant right on the lakeside ‘prom’. I noticed it because I like fish very much. Having grabbed a quick Falafel for lunch only an hour prior to coming across this restaurant, I didn’t actually eat there, so sadly can’t personally comment on the quality of its food. However, I was with some friends that day who live fairly near Tiberias, and they did say they had heard it was very good.

      • Yorkie; here’s an idea if your palate does not go for kibbutz cooking. In the old days, when Duvidl was a volunteer waiter, he used to take a St. Peter’s fish to the kibbutz beach with a few volunteer friends and his guitar, and griddle it over an open fire with lemon, fennel and finely chopped Israeli salad as the sun was setting over the lake. At the time we were drinking Israeli shev sheva sheva (777) vodka with orane squeezed from Jaffa oranges picked from the nearby orange groves.

        Duvidl has fond memories of those peaceful and delicious musical evenings and, particularly, a brief romance sparked with a beautiful French Canadian volunteer, with whom Duvidl got amorous on a wooden jetty jutting out into the lake. Perhaps you could try it yourself. Alas, the romance was soon extinguished when the beautiful volunteer took a liking for extended shmutter(clothes)-shopping trips to Tiberias on days off.

        • I’ve had some great food on kibbutzim – although mostly cooked by individual kibbutzniks – but just not that one. However, your beach barbecue scenario sounds absolutely idyllic. Regrettably, I think I might have to give the jetty idea a miss – I do value my creature comforts as I get older, and would hate getting splinters in delicate areas. It might also inconvenience the local fishermen.
          I suspect you actually lost little in losing that girl – any girl who would prefer the (sadly, still mostly dubious) sartorial offerings of Tiberias to the company of a man such as yourself clearly has no taste.

  4. Many thanks, Sharon. The rural peace is indeed breathtaking, coupled with the kibbutz farm cows and heavily pre-booked self-catering holiday apartments, where Duvidl will be staying. He will also marvel at the wildlife and water voles on the nearby river Jordan. He might take his fly fishing rod there (no bailiffs or charges) and on the replica “Jesus boat” across the lake to Tiberias, superbly developed with lakeside hotels, restaurants and shopping centres since he worked as a kibbutz volunteer in the seventies. Duvidl hasn’t even begun to extol the many enchanting sites roundabout and the archaeology of Capernaum. Everyone should sample it, thanks to the state of Israel. Happy New Year.

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